Can mandatory face masks pave way for ending Burqa ban in Europe?

Suddenly the full-face veil has a whole set of new, more communal associations.


Face coverings are now quickly becoming the standard to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Suddenly the full-face veil has a whole set of new, more communal associations. Many legal establishments are gearing up to challenge the current status quo.

Lately, inspired by the global need of face coverings, Alia Jafar, a British schoolteacher in Saudi Arabia, posted a picture on social media, of three women in the street during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. All of them wore wide-brimmed hats, with scarfs tied across their faces. Only their eyes peeked through. “It looks like the burqa,” She said.


Burqa Bans

In European countries, the laws informally known as the “burqa bans” forbid full-face coverings, often based on public safety.

However, many European countries are now requiring the wearing of facemasks despite their mutual bans on face coverings.

In 2011, a law was passed in Belgium that banned the wearing of clothing in the street that hides one’s identity. Now, because of the virus, masks are mandatory on public transportation and “highly encouraged” in other places.

Moreover, in the Netherlands, people are now required to wear masks on trains and buses. However, last year, a law came into effect banning face coverings on public transportation, hospitals, and schools.

In Austria, facemasks are now obligatory in shops and on public transportation. In 2017, a bill was passed banning face coverings in public areas. There are similar circumstances in Bulgaria, Denmark, and some parts of Italy, Spain, and Germany.

However, France stood firm on its ban, prohibiting the wearing of clothing intended to hide the face in public spaces.

Lawyers and experts now say that in light of COVID-19, legal arguments against the burqa ban are much weaker. Many believe that it’s time to put an end to the marginalization of women who choose to cover their faces in public.

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